Monday, August 28, 2017

Mike the HEADLESS Chicken

Mike the Headless Chicken
Mike the Headless Chicken (April 1945 – March 1947), also known as Miracle Mike,was a Wyandotte rooster that lived for 18 months after its head had been mostly cut off. Thought by many to be a hoax, the bird was taken by its owner to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to establish its authenticity.

Beheading
On September 10, 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen of Fruita, Colorado, had his mother-in-law around for supper and was sent out to the yard by his wife to bring back a chicken. Olsen chose a five-and-a-half month old cockerel named Mike, but failed to completely decapitate the bird. The axe missed the jugular vein, leaving one ear and most of the brain stem intact.

Despite Olsen's botched handiwork, Mike was still able to balance on a perch and walk clumsily; it even attempted to preen and crow, although it could do neither. After the bird did not die, a surprised Mr. Olsen decided to continue to care permanently for Mike, feeding it a mixture of milk and water via an eyedropper; it was also fed small grains of corn. Mike occasionally choked on its own mucus, which the Olsen family would clear using a syringe.

Mike the Headless Chicken -
feeding it a mixture of milk and water
via an eyedropper.
Part of the reason that a chicken can live without its head has to do with its skeletal anatomy, according to Dr. Wayne J. Kuenzel a poultry physiologist and neurobiologist at the University of Arkansas. The skull of a chicken contains two massive openings for the eyes that allow the brain to be shoved upwards into the skull at an angle of around 45 degrees. This means that while some of the brain may be sliced away, a very important part remains.

“But because the brain is at that angle,” says Kuenzel, “you still have the functional part that’s so critical for survival intact.”

A truly enduring headless chicken, according to Kuenzel, “is a very rare phenomenon.” In the case of Mike, while the brain was gone, the brain stem remained, which was able to control breathing, heart rate and most reflex actions.

When used to its new and unusual center of mass, Mike could easily get itself to the highest perches without falling. Its crowing, though, was less impressive and consisted of a gurgling sound made in its throat, leaving it unable to crow at dawn. Mike also spent its time preening and attempting to peck for food with its neck.

Being semi-headless did not keep Mike from putting on weight; at the time of its partial beheading it weighed two and a half pounds, but at the time of its death this had increased to nearly eight pounds.



Fame
Mike the Headless Chicken + Lloyd Olsen
Once its fame had been established, Mike began a career of touring sideshows in the company of such other creatures as a two-headed calf. It was also photographed for dozens of magazines and papers, featuring in Time and Life magazines. Olsen drew criticism from some for keeping the semi-headless chicken alive.

Mike was on display to the public for an admission cost of 25 cents. At the height of its popularity the chicken earned princely $4,500 USD per month ($50,000 in 2005 dollars) and was valued at $10,000. Olsen's success resulted in a wave of copycat chicken beheadings, but no other chicken lived for more than a day or two. A pickled chicken head was also on display with Mike, but this was not Mike's original head, as a cat had already eaten it. Mike was later examined by the officers of several humane societies and was declared to have been free from any suffering.

A children's playground chant soon emerged: "Mike, Mike, where's your head? Even without it, you're not dead!"


Death

A sculpture tribute to
Mike on Fruita's Main Street Colorado.
In March 1947, at a motel in Phoenix on a stopover while traveling back home from tour, Mike started choking in the middle of the night. As the Olsens had inadvertently left their feeding and cleaning syringes at the sideshow the day before, they were unable to save Mike. Lloyd Olsen claimed that he had sold the bird off, resulting in stories of Mike still touring the country as late as 1949. Other sources, including the Guinness Book of World Records,say that the chicken's severed trachea could not take in enough air properly to be able to breathe; and therefore choked to death in the motel.

Post mortem, it was determined that the axe blade had missed the carotid artery and a clot had prevented Mike from bleeding to death. Although most of its head was severed, most of its brain stem and one ear was left on its body. Since basic functions (breathing, heart-rate, etc) as well as most of a chicken's reflex actions are controlled by the brain stem, Mike was able to remain quite healthy.



Legacy in Fruita
Mike the Headless Chicken is now an institution in Fruita, Colorado, with an annual "Mike the Headless Chicken Day", the third weekend of May, starting in 1999. Events held include the "5K Run Like a Headless Chicken Race", egg toss, "Pin the Head on the Chicken", the "Chicken Cluck-Off", and "Chicken Bingo", in which chicken droppings on a numbered grid choose the numbers. There is also a song about Mike by the band Radioactive Chickenheads.


Source(s): wikipedia | miketheheadlesschicken | modernfarmer

Monday, August 21, 2017

The QUAGGA

The only known photo of a living quagga.
Photo F. York, London, Regent's Park ZOO, 1870 
The quagga (Equus quagga quagga) is an extinct subspecies of the Plains zebra, which was once found in great numbers in South Africa's Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State. It was distinguished from other zebras by having the usual vivid marks on the front part of the body only. In the mid-section, the stripes faded and the dark, inter-stripe spaces became wider, and the rear parts were a plain brown. The name comes from a Khoikhoi word for zebra and is onomatopoeic, being said to resemble the quagga's call. The only quagga to have ever been photographed alive was a mare at the Zoological Society of London's Zoo in Regent's Park in 1870.


Quagga specimen on display at the
The Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich
Range and habitat
The Quagga lived in the drier parts of South Africa, on grassland. The northern limit seems to have been the Orange River in the west and the Vaal River in the east; the south-eastern border may have been the Great Kei River.It was hunted for its meat and fur, and is one of many victims of the modern mass extinction.


Taxonomy
The quagga was originally classified as an individual species, Equus quagga, in 1778. Over the next 50 years or so, many other zebras were described by naturalists and explorers. Because of the great variation in coat patterns (no two zebras are alike), taxonomists were left with a great number of described "species", and no easy way to tell which of these were true species, which were subspecies, and they were simply natural variants.

Long before this confusion was sorted out, the quagga had been hunted to extinction for meat, hides, and to preserve feed for domesticated stock. The last wild quagga was probably shot in the late 1870s, and the last specimen in captivity, a mare, died on August 12, 1883 at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam. Because of the confusion between different zebra species, particularly among the general public, the quagga had become extinct before it was realized that it appeared to be a separate species.

Quagga specimen on display at Cape Town, South Africa
The quagga was the first extinct creature to have its DNA studied. Recent genetic research at the Smithsonian Institution has demonstrated that the quagga was in fact not a separate species at all, but diverged from the extremely variable plains zebra, Equus burchelli, between 120,000 and 290,000 years ago, and suggests that it should be named Equus burchelli quagga. However, according to the rules of biological nomenclature, where there are two or more alternative names for a single species, the name first used takes priority. As the quagga was described about thirty years earlier than the plains zebra, it appears that the correct terms are E. quagga quagga for the quagga and E. quagga burchelli for the plains zebra, unless "Equus burchelli" is officially declared to be a nomen conservandum.

Quagga specimen on display at Tring, England
After the very close relationship between the quagga and surviving zebras was discovered, the Quagga Project was started by Reinhold Rau in South Africa to recreate the quagga by selective breeding from plains zebra stock, with the eventual aim of reintroducing them to the wild. This type of breeding is also called breeding back. In early 2006, it was reported that the third and fourth generations of the project have produced animals which look very much like the depictions and preserved specimens of the quagga, though whether looks alone are enough to declare that this project has produced a true "re-creation" of the original quagga is controversial.

DNA from mounted specimens was successfully extracted in 1984, but the technology to use recovered DNA for breeding does not yet exist. In addition to skins such as the one held by the Natural History Museum in London, there are 23 known stuffed and mounted quagga throughout the world. A twenty-fourth specimen was destroyed in Königsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad), during World War II.

Quagga the last one died at a zoo in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on August 12, 1883.


Quagga hybrids and similar animals

A donkey / zebra hybrid (called a "Zeedonk" by Colchester Zoo). Photo by sannse, Colchester Zoo, 2 June 2004
Zebras have been cross-bred to other equines such as donkeys and horses. There are modern animal farms which continue to do so. The offspring are known as zeedonks, zonkeys and zorses (the term for all such zebra hybrids is zebroid). Zebroids are often exhibited as curiosities although some are broken to harness or as riding animals. On January 20, 2005, Henry, a foal of the Quagga Project, was born. He most resembles the quagga.

There is a record of a quagga bred to a horse in the 1896 work Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle:

A zorse in an 1899 photograph from J.C. Ewart's
The Penycuik Experiments. "Romulus: one year old."
“ In the year 1815 Lord Morton put a male quagga to a young chestnut mare of seven-eighths Arabian blood, which had never before been bred from. The result was a female hybrid which resembled both parents. ”

In his 1859 The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin recalls seeing coloured drawings of zebra-donkey hybrids, and mentions "Lord Moreton's famous hybrid from a chesnut [sic]  mare and male quagga..." Darwin mentioned this particular hybrid again in 1868 in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, and provides a citation to the journal in which Lord Morton first described the breeding.

Okapi markings are nearly the reverse of the quagga, with the forequarters being mostly plain and the hindquarters being heavily striped. However, the okapi is no relation of the quagga, horse, donkey, or zebra. Its closest taxonomic relative is the giraffe.

An Zonky: half donkey & half zebra from Belleville, USA

In popular culture

A quagga appears in a sequence in the Soviet Union's animated film The Cat Who Walked by Herself, in which a dog tracks the hoofprints of one, and a cat tells a boy of the Red Book of endangered species, and how Quagga had "her track severed" (that is, made extinct) due to Man's selfish actions.

A Quagga is one of the main characters in The Katurran Odyssey, a fantasy children's book by David Michael Wieger.

The Quagga has had a part in the book Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox, by author Eoin Colfer, where the protagonist, Artemis Fowl, is made to ride a Quagga in his attempts to flee the clutches of an evil pixie, Opal Koboi.

1793 illustration of the quagga stallion of Louis XVI's menagerie at Versailles.


The Quagga can be unlocked in the computer game Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals. This is the only unlockable that is a real extinct animal. The quagga can be earned through fossil hunting before unlocking it. It is also able to be unlocked in freeform (after you have managed to release all the extinct animals), which is rare for rewards in the game. It is able to interbreed with the common zebra. Once unlocked, it will become available at Challenge and Campaign games at 1.5 stars in Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals.

The Quagga is also seen in the book Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel when a stuffed specimen is found on the abandoned airship Hyperion.

The Quagga is mentioned in Jurassic Park as one of the animals that could be recreated by InGen or Biosyn using DNA extracted from the hides of the Quagga.

In King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard, Captain Good startles a sleeping herd of quagga on their journey across the desert.

The Quagga will be featured in the 2010 remake of The Lost World.

The Quagga is also mentioned as one of the species "re-created" in Philip José Farmer's short story, "King of the Beasts."



Video



Source(s): wikipedia | More on the Quagga : messybeast  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The ELECTRIC RAY

Atlantic torpedo ( Torpedo nobiliana )
pic by SEFSC Pascagoula Laboratory;
Collection of Brandi Noble,
NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC - NOAA's Fisheries Collection
The electric rays are a group of rays, flattened cartilaginous fish with enlarged pectoral fins, that comprise the order Torpediniformes. They are known for being capable of producing an electric discharge, ranging from as little as 8 volts up to 220 volts depending on species, used to stun prey and for defense. There are 69 species in four families.

Perhaps the most known members are those of the genus Torpedo, also called crampfish and numbfish, after which the device called a torpedo is named. The name comes from the Latin "torpere", to be stiffened or paralyzed, referring to the effect on someone who handles or steps on a living electric ray.

Torpedo rays are excellent swimmers. Their round disk shaped bodies allow them to remain suspended in the water or roam for food with minimal swimming effort.


Description
Electric rays have a rounded pectoral disc with two moderately large rounded-angular (not pointed or hooked) dorsal fins (reduced in some narkids), and a stout, muscular tail with a well-developed caudal fin. The body is thick and flabby, with soft, loose skin devoid of dermal denticles and thorns. A pair of kidney-shaped electric organs are found at the base of the pectoral fins. The snout is broad, large in the Narcinidae but reduced in all other families. The mouth, nostrils, and five pairs of gill slits are located underneath the disc.

They are bottom dwelling fish, found from shallow coastal waters down to at least 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) depth. They are sluggish and slow moving, propelling themselves along with their tails, rather than using their disc-shaped bodies, as other rays do. They feed on invertebrates and small fish. They lie in wait for prey below the sand or other substrate, using their electricity to stun and capture it.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

OAK ISLAND The Money Pit

Located off the coast of Nova Scotia, Oak Island is said to be hiding the greatest treasure in history.  Riches have been spent and lives have been lost, since the late 1700’s, but no one has ever been able to find the jackpot.  Seven people will die, it has been predicted, before the treasure is found. So far, six have perished in accidents over the years.

Oak Island, Nova Scotia